Filecoin Foundation and Protocol Labs Embark on Experimental Project to put New York City Open Data on the Filecoin Network

Apr 21, 2023

Project Explores how Decentralized Data Storage can Benefit Public Data and City Governance in New York City

The Filecoin Foundation, an independent organization that supports the Filecoin ecosystem and promotes the growth of the decentralized web, and Protocol Labs, an open-source research and development lab, are working together to store and maintain New York City Open Data on the decentralized web for the next five years. This project will allow New York City, at no cost, to explore decentralized storage technology and how it can be an asset to the City and improve government operations.

“As CTO, I’m constantly thinking about how we can use new technology to better serve New Yorkers, including how we store and safeguard New York City’s data,” said John Paul Farmer, Chief Technology Officer of New York City. “We are a global hub for innovation and home to the second-largest tech sector on the planet. It is important for us to be at the vanguard. This is a terrific opportunity to test how decentralized technology can benefit New York City.”

Moving NYC Open Data onto the decentralized web will create a more reliable, more resilient, more secure, and more cost-effective archive of the city’s public records.

Reliable and Resilient: On today’s web, the vast majority of data is stored by just three large companies, making information data vulnerable to blackouts or single points of failure. Every year service failures impact our access to information online. This October, Facebook’s outage made the network completely inaccessible for more than 3.5 billion people across the world who depend upon it for communication and business.

On the decentralized web, websites will stay up even if some nodes fail, and most importantly, the availability of information is not dependent on any one server or company.

Secure: Public data sets are critical for informing future policies and government planning. If we lose these datasets, we lose invaluable access to precedent, as happened in the state of Maine. They recently lost public documents spanning from over 15 years –- forever losing information that provided key insight into how policies were developed and implemented. The decentralized web is the best way to ensure proper storage and preservation of data.

Cost Effective: Filecoin network storage is much more cost effective than traditional storage providers. It costs only 0.02% of the cost of storing the same data using Amazon S3.

Open Data was developed to improve accessibility, accountability, and transparency of New York City’s public data. It makes the data published by New York City agencies and other partners publicly available and helps foster trust by enabling community members to play a role in advocating for a more effective government. Open data sets, like those collected by the city of New York, are valuable resources, used by activists, journalists, researchers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and government agencies for a wide variety of projects — from connecting communities to volunteer opportunities to mapping NYC Street Trees.

“The best way to preserve and protect humanity’s most important information is to expand and strengthen the decentralized web,” said Marta Belcher, board chair of the Filecoin Foundation. “No single person, company, or nation should be responsible for preserving our collective history.”

Filecoin is a peer-to-peer network that stores files, with built-in economic incentives to ensure files are stored reliably over time. The mission of the Filecoin project is to create a decentralized, efficient, and robust foundation for humanity’s information. Today, more than 3,500 storage providers around the world collectively offer more than 13EiB of storage capacity to the network — equivalent to the complete Wikipedia stored 76,826,821 times.

The first three data sets uploaded to the Filecoin network include City Record Online (CROL), a database of notices published in the City Record newspaper, including public hearings and meetings, public auctions and sales; NYC air quality surveillance data; and a dataset of demographic statistics by zip code.

Developers who are interested in exploring ways to put this data to work are encouraged to participate in the Foundation’s developer grants program, to receive funding and support for these projects.